Monday, May 12, 2008

Independence Days

It is far from July, but Casaubon’s Book last week proposed an "Independence Days" challenge to promote what she calls food independence. It's an interesting concept - something we ought to do anyway, given soaring food and gas prices.

Sharon offers these ideas:
  1. Plant something.
  2. Harvest something. "Independence is really appreciating and using the bounty that we have."
  3. Preserve something. "The time you spend now is time you don’t have to spend hauling to the store and cooking later."
  4. Prep something.
  5. Cook something. (Sad that she has to spell this out, but the reality is so many people rely heavily on take-out, frozen dinners and other convenience foods."
  6. Manage your reserves. "Clean out the freezer.... Find some use for that can of whatever it is that’s been in the pantry forever. Sort out what you can donate, and give it to the food pantry... Independence means not wasting the bounty we have."
  7. Support local food systems - the local CSA, farmer's market, farm stand. Share seeds. Support a community garden.

I originally thought, Nice idea, but I don't have time. I have work, two children, swarms of family coming in for Memorial Day weekend... But unemployment set in, and I'm realizing rather quickly that having the comfort of where your next meal is truly is important. (We're not that bad yet, but realize how quickly our situation could progress if our limited savings run out.)

What I've learned in the last week that, like any other thing we want to be committed to, change can happen in baby steps. And while I am focusing on stretching our budget at this time, there are lessons that can be learned.

What have I done in the last week or so?

My oldest and I planted (finally) our onion sets in our backyard and added 100 strawberry plants in an area where grass hadn't been growing. (Strawberry purchase obviously pre-change, and more as an experiment in ground cover.)

We've done serious meal planning and prepping, stretching things in ways we hadn't before. The leftover steamed broccoli became tomorrow's cheese broccoli; the leftover rotisserie chicken shredded and frozen for future use. (Hey, three consecutive days of rotisserie is enough!)

We've definitely managed our reserves, what we have of it. Our deep freeze is seriously accounted for, and we're actively planning our menus to stetch those contents and break up the monotony.

Admittedly, I guiltily admit while I've refrained from any eating out, I have resorted to eating leftover ice cream sandwiches in the office freezer for lunch a few days, when schedules and meal planning didn't work out. I'm getting better. Where I used to just run out before, with $3.98 a gallon gas and limited incomes, I am figuring out how to make due.

Sadly, I'm still waiting for our CSA to kick in. There's been a two-week delay due to weather, but the company promises to start up Memorial Day weekend, just in time for our massive company.

If you haven't had a chance to read it, check out Sharon's post on her "Independence Days" challenge.

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